A Christian teaching assistant in the U.K. has won a legal settlement from a high school after he was fired for street preaching in his spare time.
Andy Nix will receive a settlement amounting to more than $8,900 in U.S. dollars from Temple Moor High School in the city of Leeds. He was supported in his case by the Christian Legal Centre.
Nix, 65, who qualified to teach in U.K. schools 18 years ago, sued the school, claiming the school’s headmaster and the teaching agency Prospero Teaching had discriminated against him for expressing his Christian beliefs.
Fired for ‘Hearsay Evidence’
In March of 2022, Nix was summoned by the HR manager to Headteacher Matthew West’s office. West asked Nix if he had been part of a ‘rally’ in Leeds City Centre.
West suggested that the teaching assistant had been arrested for “homophobic remarks,” which was not true.
He told the headteacher he was a Christian evangelist in his spare time, and on that occasion, he had been wrongfully arrested and all charges had been dropped.
In July 2021, Nix was arrested alongside fellow evangelist Dave McConnell after members of a crowd assaulted, verbally abused, and stole property from the two preachers. During Nix’s preaching, he told the story of his life before becoming a Christian. He did not use any threatening or abusive words and he remained calm despite hostility from members of the crowd, according to the Christian Legal Centre. Police officers arrested him for a public order offense and he was taken to jail but then released. One month later, Nix was informed by police that all charges had been dropped against him.
West said Nix’s Christian beliefs did not “align” with the school ethos and values, particularly around inclusivity. He said that there were students in the school who would be offended if they became aware of Nix’s Christian beliefs, according to the Christian Legal Centre.
Throughout his supervisor’s questioning, Nix recalled it felt like he was being pressured to renounce his Christian beliefs or lose his job.
Nix was told that parents and students had reportedly said they did not understand how a Christian with such beliefs could be allowed to work in a school.
After Nix emphasized he had broken no law, West told him to leave the premises immediately. He later appealed his firing but received no response from the school.
He later filed a lawsuit against the high school, claiming harassment, and discrimination, and said the school had breached his right to freedom, thought, and religion under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the Christian Legal Centre said.
It was alleged that Nix had said same-sex attracted people would “burn in hell,” which he denied. While Nix does preach that Christian sexual morality and marriage between a man and a woman is a good thing, he never said that being same-sex attracted would result in “burning in hell,” which was maliciously alleged, according to the Christian Legal Centre.
His attorneys also added that Nix has never preached a message that could reasonably be said to cause students to “feel unsafe.”
Instead of going to trial, the school decided to settle the case and pay Nix a settlement.
Despite his case being settled, Nix believes being fired from the school has prevented him from being able to get a permanent teaching job.
“I was shocked and amazed that the headteacher could do what he did. He made me feel like a criminal; his aim was to bully and humiliate me into renouncing my Christian activity. I believe if I had renounced it, I could have kept my job,” Nix said in a statement.
“The school trampled over my freedom of expression and belief. I am pleased that they agreed to settle the case which I believe was a recognition of wrongdoing,” he said. “It is, however, a worrying sign if Christians are not allowed to debate, preach, and express their faith in public without fear of losing their livelihoods.”
“The experience has, however, helped me grow in resilience and reminded me of the cost involved in following Jesus Christ,” he continued.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said Nix’s case “is a clear example of employer overreach.”
“The classroom and security of jobs cannot be weaponized against teaching staff who are Christians and publicly express their beliefs,” she said in a statement. “The idea that a Christian can be sacked because a pupil says they feel ‘unsafe’ over Christian preaching outside school is ludicrous and deeply concerning. We can’t live in a world where the students call the shots and headteachers are forced to comply or be labeled bigoted.”
She added, “No Christian employees must be discriminated against for expressing their Christian faith in public in their own time.”